Chantal Rens in the studio working. Photo by Ayako Nishibori
Chantal Rens’ artist practice is about changing views and perspectives on life by assembling analogue photography and printed matter. Her works are uncanny, funny and sometimes unsettling, with playful interventions that challenge the imagination in what you see. Chantal Rens wants to protect her work against analyses, rational considerations and comparisons. She advocates being open to the unusual and letting yourself be carried away with wonder. Her works do their utmost to provide nutrition for this attitude.
“I don’t have many rules, I create as if I am playing; manage materials by categorizing them to a certain extent, but I prefer to work in a slightly chaotic environment. From a state of chaos, I perceive material that does not trigger the image ‘that I am looking for’, and all of a sudden, quite abruptly, possibilities that are beyond my imagination can come to me, opening new doors.”
For fold #03 on Happiness, Chantal Rens exhibits her work at SEA Foundation with a book presentation and sculptures. Exploring happiness, according to the artist, means to prioritise imagination, where thinking is secondary, as a way of ‘airing out the creative process’. Her working method includes reusing source materials and assembling images. Over the years, Chantal Rens built an impressive archive of images that she categorises in her own personal way. For outsiders, it may seem that the piles and trays with old family photos and clippings from vintage books and magazines in her studio are uncontrolled and in disarray. Yet this is only partly true, as her working materials are touched often and can be found easily with nimble fingers and a sharp eye for detail.
No doubt that this collector’s way of working is a valuable way to approach happiness or ‘self-care’. Spending time absorbed in an activity, such as arranging a collection or searching out new finds is a stress reducer. Indeed, it allows you to escape from everyday life and focus completely on what is in front of you, there, here and now.
Chantal Rens (1981, Etten-Leur) received her BFA at the Academie voor Beeldende Vorming in Tilburg, the Netherlands. With fine arts specialisation in three-dimensional art and textiles. In 2002 she won De Pont Atelier Prijs and Stimuleringsprijs Beeldende Kunst of Tilburg municipality. Her work mainly consists of photographic collages and artists’ books. Since 2008 she has been collaborating with artist and cartoonist Gummbah and in 2014 they founded the publishing house PANTOFLE BOOKS in Tilburg. Her publications and paperware like calendars and card sets as well as clothing and home furnishings can be found in specialist bookshops all over the world. Alternatively can be ordered from her webshop.
Website Chantal Rens